Jason and Maafi Misa and Fay Gollshewsky have each been in contact with relatives who saw yesterday's tsunami in Samoa first hand.
Jason and Maafi Misa and Fay Gollshewsky have each been in contact with relatives who saw yesterday's tsunami in Samoa first hand. Ron Burgin

Tsunami shocks families in Bundy

AS water surged around Jason Misa’s family they held on to solid pieces of furniture in their Samoan home and waited for the massive wave to roll back out to sea.

The water receded — taking their kitchen with it — and the family braced again in their low-set beach-side house near the Samoan capital Apia as a second wave rushed onto the shore.

Back in Bundaberg Mr Misa, his wife and their four children slept as their extended family took what they could carry and rushed to higher ground following the Samoan tsunami.

"I’m not happy, I just feel sorry for the people and my family," the Bundaberg man said.

At the time of going to press Mr Misa still did not know if some of his other family members, in another village, were still alive. "I’m still very sad, but they (family in Apia) are alright," he said.

The Bundaberg man said if the wave had hit during a high tide instead of a low tide, his family’s whole village would have been flattened.

The death toll from the tsunami last night reached 113 people, including an Australian woman.

At 3.48am yesterday morning, Australian Eastern Standard Time, an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter Scale struck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Former Bundaberg woman Jenny Sinclair, who lives in the Samoan town of Lalomanu, was going for her morning jog yesterday when she felt the ground begin to shake.

Her mother Fay Gollshewsky said that her daughter raced back home, gathered together her most precious possessions and drove her car to higher ground.

Back in Innes Park, Mrs Gollshewsky turned on the radio and heard the first reports of the tsunami hitting the coastline.

Frantically, she tried to telephone her daughter who has worked for the Australian government as a chartered accountant on the island since May.

After hours of attempting to get through to her daughter, Mrs Sinclair called her mother to let her know she was alright.

"She said it was the most terrible thing she’d seen," Mrs Gollshewsky said.

"Some of the others she works with, the locals, she doesn’t know how they are.

"Another young girl she works with, she hasn’t been able to contact.

"She said it was the worst thing she’d ever been through and she’s been through a lot in different countries."

As news of the natural disaster spread through the tight-knit Samoan community, the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre began to receive calls from people desperate to know more information about how to contact their family and friends on the Pacific island.

Multicultural program co-ordinator Paulina Van Elteren said the Pacific islander community was distraught.

"They’re always talking about their own people," she said.

Ms Van Elteren pleaded with people to donate whatever they could to help in the relief effort.

"Pacific islanders are our closest neighbours and their culture and traditions are such a great enhancement to ours," she said.

Big waves also hit the northern part of Tonga, as well as American Samoa and people have died on both islands.

Another tsunami warning was sparked last night by a quake, measuring 7.9, off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

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